Coach James Weldon gives his thoughts on Dragan Bender +++ Sarunas Jasikevičius retires, joins Zalgiris in coaching role +++ Vintage Drazen Petrovic jersey up for auction +++ Ireland announce select squad for Luxembourg friendlies +++ We really need you to nominate beers +++ Mykhailiuk operating almost under cover +++ Nando de Colo has the best location for a basketball camp +++ Ireland end famines with two slices of Danish bacon +++ Former Galatasaray baller Jamont Gordon talks about the road to recovery +++ FIBA Europe Under 20 final highlights and top plays +++

Rudy Fernandez: D’Antoni “doesn’t understand Pau Gasol,” “one of the world’s best centers”

Pau Gasol, Rudy FernandezWith so many observers, players and blogosphere fanatics weighing in on both perpetual trade-bait Pau Gasol and his currently sorry-looking Los Angeles Lakers, it’s no surprise that Spanish-language media outlets have taken to speaking with Pau’s Team Spain teammate Rudy Fernandez on the maddening situation.

In a piece appearing in El Confidencial under the headline quote “Pau Gasol is going through a difficult time because D’Antoni does not understand,” Fernandez defended the Laker further by explaining that Gasol “still brings things to the team and has a good philosophy to help the team.” In an echo of steadily increasing murmurs and related posts online, Fernandez believes that making Pau a jump shooter is not playing to the Spaniard’s strengths.

Spain-based Blog de Basket expounded a bit further on Rudy’s remarks made on the radio, quoting the Madridista as explaining that “…D’Antoni is a coach who likes to play with [a faster, small-ball game] and Pau does not. He has proven to be one of the best centers the world and if you pass it inside, he’s going to take something safe, but D’Antoni doesn’t understand this and Pau shoots [from outside].”

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Stern Words: Analyzing the NBA and Euroleague bigwigs’ Berlin press gig

So apparently this is what BallinEurope does when dithering about Official Fearless Predictions™ for Euroleague waiting around to record podcasts: Watches video of league management types.

On the other hand, this isn’t just any commissioner we’re talking about today – This is El Jefe himself, arguably the most influential figure in international basketball for a couple decades, David Stern.

Stern met with press alongside Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu – the two looking a bit like an American presidential ticket – before what BiE is calling the Dirk Bowl matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Alba Berlin. Naturally, Stern covered lotsa topics focusing on European hoops and the future of the big league. Should you not wish to watch the entire 25-minute powwow, BiE breaks down the highlights below, in diary format a la Bill “The Sports Guy” Simmons.

0.00: With Stern and Bertomeu sitting in front of the traditional logo-laden wallpaper background, a thought comes to mind. Oddly enough, the listed cosponsor of the NBA Europe Live Tour is the Basketball Veterans Association. Was this some sort of bizarre consequence of the NBA player lockout?

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2012 Olympic basketball: Rising and falling stock after the first round

While we’re a little ways away from actually awarding medals for 2012 Olympic basketball, the first round showed international hoops fans quite a lot. Though the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, reputations have changed over the past five games to cause some individual and/or teams losses beyond these Olympics. BallinEurope today takes a look at those whose stock has risen and those who’ve fallen in the early going of the London Games.

Lebron James. Yeah, like this guy needs a further upward trend in his already all-time lofty-looking career. Four years ago, ESPN’s Bill Simmons proclaimed (correctly, in BiE’s opinion) that in 2008 ‘Games crunch time, “everyone deferred to Kobe, who made some monster plays to clinch it. Know that in the history of the NBA we have never had the best-player-alive argument resolved so organically.” In 2012, King James has proven himself to be the best player on the best team in this Olympic tournament.

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Quiz: The NBA- and Euro-centric year in basketball, 2011-12

2011-12: The year of Spanoulis?

Quick! Before those memories of basketball championships European and NBA fade completely, take a brief look back at the season that was – one crazy one on The Continent that began with Tony Parker, Ty Lawson and Mehmet Okur playing over here and concluded with titles taken by King James and Emperor Spanoulis. Get out those pencils and take the BallinEurope quiz…

1. The 2011-12 Euroleague season:
a) was one of the greatest ever
b) was the greatest ever
c) proved Jordi Bertomeu’s contention that “we don’t need NBA imports to be a top-quality competition
d) was awesome, but man, i’m jonesing. When does the season start?

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Eurocentric NBA highlights, bullets: Parker’s big game; Nuggets top Heat; Deng rules over Celtics; Rubio masterful as ever in first start

BallinEurope gets things rolling on Saturday with highlight clips – okay, some links to online stuff You Should Read as well, but the main point is highlight clips, right? This morning, then, a quick look at some excellent performances turned in in last night’s NBA action from the Continent’s top players. Starring Tony Parker, Luol Deng, Tiago Splitter, Ty Lawson, and of course a certain Spanish point guard you may have heard something about…

• Tony Parker contributed perhaps his best NBA performance of 2011-12 last night, with 20 points and nine assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 99-83 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Fellow TrueHoop blog 48 Minutes of Hell does some “Statistical Sleuthing” in an excellent piece on Parker’s play in the paint and at the rim this season, for ages a strength for the Spur.

After crunching the numbers, 48 Minutes’ Aaron McGuire deduces that “The fact is, Tony Parker has been playing atrociously, *especially* at the rim, and it’s tough to say whether this should make Spurs fans excited or terrified. Why excited? It’s easy to simply chalk this up to small sample size and assume he gets better as the year goes on, which would be an instant improvement to San Antonio’s already gelling offense. Terrified is more obvious — if this represents a permanent change in his game, the Spurs are essentially down to *no* all-star caliber offensive players.”

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Peja Stojakovic: The BallinEurope tribute

Just days ago, Peja Stojakovic appeared to be a viable free agent for an NBA team with roster holes, a still-deadly long-range assassin at the age of 34, a 19-year veteran with gas enough in the tank for late-game daggers and smart D, a prototypical European baller with an American championship pedigree. “Couldn’t he drain a few 3s for a contender?” rhetorically asked hoops sage Bill Simmons last Friday.

Alas, it was not to be. The Serbian sharpshooter will not be part of the Dallas Mavericks’ quest to repeat as NBA champions, announcing his retirement from professional basketball late Monday night. Citing injuries to his neck and back, Stojakovic decided his physical struggles were “a wakeup call” for him to leave the game at this point.

On the plus side, Peja has the privilege of going out on top, in 2011 not only topping his seeming long-time personal rivals the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA playoffs, but also finally earning the ring which had eluded him for a dozen seasons ‘Stateside.

Today BallinEurope pays tribute to the gold-medal winning, NBA title having, future FIBA Hall of Fame nod achieving legend in the traditional fashion … let’s go to the ‘Tube!

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Career retrospective: Arvydas Sabonis, Hall of Famer

In honor of the legendary Arvydas Sabonis, the man Scottie Pippen once called “The greatest European basketball player ever to play the game,” entering the Basketball Hall of Fame, BallinEurope this morning reruns its career retrospective on the big man’s incredible career.

Quite a collection of rare Sabonis footage exists in the collective consciousness of YouTube, an ideal jumping-off point for that burgeoning bunch of basketball fans who never saw the man play or even experienced a world in which the Soviet Union exists.

Congratulations again to Sabas and thanks for the memories!

• 1979-1989 (and again from 2000-2005): Žalgiris Kaunas
From Sabonis first getting into the professional system with hometown club to courtside videocam shots of his final pro season back with his first team, this Lithuanian-language clip is loaded with rare footage.

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A dunking ninja in America: Clips, comments on Jan Vesely’s draft night

On NBA Draft night, surely no European player – not even the mysterious (to the American market) Enes Kanter – drew as much notice as no. 6 overall Jan Vesely. In a serious case of instant fame injection, the Czech big man leapt into the collective consciousness thanks to a post-draft smooch and the resulting publicity for a YouTube clip collection that challenges young Senor Rubio’s in terms of imagination-bending awesomeness.

As BallinEurope this morning runs down Vesely’s video record, firstly here’s the introduction of no. 6 by David Stern and *that kiss*.

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NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: The Eurocentric View

With the NBA playoffs starting today, BallinEurope takes another brief look at the matchups drawing our attention for the next 137 months or so. Unlike the Western Conference half of the bracket, Eastern teams are disappointingly low on European players stocking their rosters. No matter: We’ve still got the FIBA Bulls and the Big Z to pull for on this side – and BiE’s got musings, meanderings, YouTube clips and those Fearless Predictions™. Today: the Western Conference matchups.

Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks
After years of an all-American lineup, the Celtics started the season with one European and (somewhat inexplicably) ended up with two, thanks to the Kendrick Perkins trade – but Sasha Pavlovic and Nenad Krstic will surely be non-factors in this series.

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Arvydas Sabonis: A career retrospective, via YouTube

BallinEurope sends out huge, 7’3” congratulations this morning to all-time great Arvydas Sabonis, finally inducted into the Professional Basketball Hall of Fame alongside luminaries such as Chris Mullin, Dennis Rodman (whoa, that’s still weird), Artis Gilmore, Tex Winter, “Goose” Tatum, Tom “Satch” Sanders, Tara Van Derveer, Herb Magee, and Teresa Edwards.

A tribute in the form of career retrospective to the pride of Lithuanian basketball follows – in the finest fashion BiE knows: video clips! Quite a collection of rare Sabonis footage exists in the collective consciousness of YouTube, an ideal jumping-off point for that burgeoning bunch of basketball fans who’d never seen the man play or even experienced a world in which the Soviet Union exists.

Thanks for the memories, Sabas!

• 1979-1989 (and again from 2000-2005): Žalgiris Kaunas
From Sabonis first getting into the professional system with hometown club to courtside videocam shots of his final pro season back with his first team, this Lithuanian-language clip is loaded with rare footage.

Continue Reading…